Your Guide To Cavities

Many people struggle with their oral health. However, even if you eat an oral-friendly diet and brush regularly, you may develop a cavity. Cavities can vary in size and severity, but they should all be treated. If you would like to know more about cavities, keep reading.

What Causes Cavities?

Cavities develop when the tooth's enamel breaks down. Factors that can affect tooth enamel include:

  • Bacteria
  • Acidic foods/beverages
  • Sugary foods/beverages
  • Foods high in simple carbohydrates
  • Plaque
  • Tartar

Acid from foods, plaque, and bacteria break down the tooth's enamel and break into the dentin to create a cavity or decaying and dead tooth tissue. While less common, cavities may also develop if you experience trauma to the tooth, which can allow bacteria to enter.

What Are the Symptoms of a Cavity?

Small cavities in the enamel may present little to no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you may experience sensitivity (especially to cold, hot, and sugary foods/beverages). In some cases, you can see the cavity as a pit or discoloration. In more serious cases, especially if the cavity reaches the dentin, you may have pain.

How Are Cavities Treated?

Cavities are usually treated by removing the infected tissue and replacing it with a filling. For small cavities in the enamel, you may not even need Novocain. Instead of standard fillings, some patients choose inlays or onlays, which look more like natural tooth tissue. For large cavities, the dentist may recommend a crown.

What if You Ignore a Cavity?

If you ignore a cavity, it can worsen. A painless cavity in your enamel can soon turn into a sensitive cavity in the dentin. In extreme cases, the decay may reach the tooth's pulp, which can cause a tooth infection or abscess, which requires root canal treatment or extraction.

The cavity can also weaken the tooth, increasing the risk of breaking. The dentist may be able to rebuild a severely decayed tooth, but if too much crown tissue is gone, it may need an extraction. Ultimately, ignoring your cavities can lead to severe tooth loss, and tooth loss causes:

  • Changes in your bite
  • Shifting teeth
  • Reduced confidence
  • Difficulty eating
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Changes in facial shape from bone atrophy

If you have a cavity, don't just keep brushing it. Your dentist can get rid of the cavity before it turns into an infection or tooth loss. If you would like to know more, or if you need to schedule an appointment, contact a dentist's office in your area such as the Dental Clinic of Onalaska.